One of the ‘Aha!’ moments in my life was when I first understood ‘The Line’ illustration outlined in Dan Stone’s book, The Rest of the Gospel: When the partial Gospel has worn you out.”
Draw a horizontal line across the middle of a full sheet of paper, from left to right. Above the line, write the word “ETERNAL.” Below the line write the word “TEMPORAL.” Focus on this image for a moment. You’ve just started to draw a picture of 1 Corinthians 4:18…
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
There are two realms or realities in life: what we see and what we can’t see. This truth is basic to living the abundant life that Jesus promises. With our eyes we see the things which don’t last. But it takes eyes of faith to ‘see’ eternal things. the Spirit of Christ living in us reveals these so we can fix our eyes on them. Both realities are of God but we are to focus on the eternal realm.
Stone writes, “The distinction between the two realms is vital to us for three reasons:
1. God designed His kingdom to work ‘by faith.’
2. It helps us to understand our true identity ‘in Christ.’
3. God designed us so that we can find our greatest fulfillment only in the unseen eternal realm.
Pascal said we were created with a God-shaped vacuum that only He could fill. This is our true identity and how God sees us NOW as followers of Jesus: Spirit-filled, Whole, and Complete, redeemed already by the finished work of His Son on the cross. This is our Changeless, Timeless, Ultimate Reality. The eternal is the Unseen realm where the great “I AM” lives in us. Write these highlighted words above the line. Because our spirit is already aligned with the Holy Spirit, you could say “I am already there in the eternal realm, with the great “I AM” who lives in me. This is my true identity.”
But below the line is where we live for the moment. It is Time-Based and always Changing. We see the Appearances of things, not as they really are. We see ourselves not as complete but In Process. We perceive truth as physical Matter. We strive after Needs. Write these highlighted words below the line.
The ‘trap’ we face is that we are always trying to become better Christians instead of focusing on who we already are – in Christ. When our spirit is truly surrendered to the Spirit of God, we are fully redeemed and whole. This is hard for us to grasp because we look at ourselves as in process. We’ll never find abundant life by focusing our eyes on the temporary realm. And we can never perceive the eternal realm unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. (2 Corinthians 2:10-14)
Even though we know we are saved by grace, we often live like we can be made whole and sanctified by our works. Paul says it is ‘foolish’ to attempt this.
The “rest” of the gospel is in resting from trying to become who you already are in Christ and what He has already accomplished in you. It’s found in believing you are who Jesus says you are.
I hope you’ll hold on to your illustration and reflect on what it says about who you already are in Christ and who He is in you. Fix your eyes on what is unseen. Live by faith.